Where Does Frankie Dettori Rank Among The Best Jockeys Of All-Time?
This year’s Royal Ascot festival will be Frankie Dettori’s last so ahead of it we’re asking – Where does Dettori rank among jockeys all-time?
The Italian has undoubtedly had one of the best careers as a jockey in horse racing. He has dominated the flat season for many years and Royal Ascot has always been a favourite event of his as he has rode winner after winner at this festival.
To answer the question of where Dettori ranks among the great jockeys and tell us more about the man we enlisted the help of Mick Kinane, an Irish horse racing icon. Kinane also gives us some fascinating insight into what it was like to ride for a Sir Alex Ferguson owned horse and what a winner at the Royal Ascot festival would mean for the king of Britan’s interest in horse racing.
Where does Frankie rank in the best jockeys of all time?
There have been a lot of good jockeys, but very few great ones. Frankie has been a great jockey with a phenomenal career. He’s right up there at the top.
Frankie could definitely have continued for at least another season, but it’s nice to go out when you’re on the top. It’s hard to check out at the right time in the sport. His name will forever be remembered by going out at the top and I think it’s a good call by him.
A good Ascot will help Frankie win BBC Sports Personality of the Year, I think he’d be a great choice. It will be a fitting farewell if he did win it in his final year.
What was it like when a young Frankie Dettori arrived in the weighing room?
Frankie has always been a breath of fresh air. He’s fun to be around and he brings a good atmosphere with him. I’ve been friends with Frankie since day one and he’s been great for racing, I can only speak highly of him.
He didn’t lack enthusiasm and you could see he was naturally talented from day one. He had the perfect mentality to succeed and was destined for the top.
We had some great times together, he’s up there with the best company you could ask for.
What will Frankie’s future look like?
I wouldn’t see him going near becoming a trainer, it’s too much hard work! He’s perfect for media. He’s a very recognisable face and will have a big career inside and outside of racing.
Frankie is absolutely made for Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve seen him dance and he can move a bit. He’s an entertainer in his own right, it’s very hard to get it all in one package. Frankie could walk into a room with a hidden camera and he would know it was there – he has the knack, he feeds the camera. He hasn’t been taught how to feed and be good for the press and media because he’s such a natural at it – not everybody is.
Who can step up and fill the personality void left by Frankie?
There’s always somebody that will take his place. William Buick and Ryan Moore are brilliant riders, but don’t have the same personality as Frankie. It’s a big ask for anybody to be another Frankie.
Hollie Doyle is a very talented jockey, herself and Tom Marquand are a lovely couple. Hollie does a great job with her horses and is bubbly, but Frankie’s got very big boots to fill.
What was it like riding Rock Of Gibraltar for Sir Alex Ferguson?
Rock Of Gibraltar was a brilliant racehorse and he was a really fun horse to ride because you could press the button and go. He loved his racing and had a turn of foot that was incredible. I had the most fun on Rock Of Gibraltar than on any horse, and the association with Sir Alex Ferguson made it even better. I’m a Manchester United fan, for my sins and have been to Old Trafford many times.
Sir Alex is very enthusiastic and loves his racing. There’s pressure to perform when you’re riding high-profile horses in big races, it’s no different for him or any other major horse.
I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Sir Alex very well through Rock Of Gibraltar. He’s a very charming man, he’s great company when you get to know him – though I wouldn’t like to fall on the wrong side of him! Rock Of Gibraltar was unlucky on his last start in the Breeders’ Cup, we missed the start and I had to avoid some things in front of me. That’s sport.
Will a winner at Royal Ascot ignite The King’s passion for racing?
It will be nice for him to have a winner in his first year as the monarch and hopefully he has a good reaction to having a winner and he’s passionate about it as his mother was.
It will be good to see those great colours win and give him a bit of encouragement for racing going forward.
One of the King’s horses, Saga, has a chance of winning in the Wolferton Stakes (Tue 5:35), but it’s an open race and stable-mate Francesco Clemente looks good too. Buckeroo is an interesting horse, he can be a player in this, likewise King Of Conquest.
The Ascot Gold Cup is a nice race to win for a jockey because it’s a big day at Ascot. It was great to receive a prize from The Queen when you won this race. She was a fantastic lady who loved her race and was very warm and affectionate. She loved to discuss the race and how it went.
It was the absolute highlight of any jockey’s career to go and meet The Queen after winning the Gold Cup. I’m sure it will be an honour to receive a prize from The King.
The Queen loved horses, it was her passion. She will be missed because she had a hands-on interest in the horses. The Queen was a lovely and warm woman, she had a knack of making you feel at ease.
She was always willing to engage and ask questions about the horses. She was very educated on horse racing and was really interested in what you had to say about how a race went and what you were going to do with the horse going forward.
What is it like when you find out you’re being replaced on your ride by another jockey?
It’s just a fact of life for jockeys that they have to get used to. Everybody experiences being jocked at some point in their life. It’s tough when you get a good horse and you’re cast aside on a big day, it’s not easy. It lights a fire within you, you can only react by giving another horse a good ride and you can’t dwell on it for too long.
If you’re looking for a preview of Tuesday’s opening day action at Royal Ascot then check out our Royal Ascot Tuesday tips post from Mick Kinane.
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